Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Car Show in ND-land

Went to a small car show the other day. I mean, it wasn't just a showing of small cars it was a car show with not too many cars in it, you know, a small grouping of cars. The cars were all older American cars, pre-1973. After shooting the British cars for so long, it was a bit unusual to see the American cars rolled out, waiting for me to shoot them.

Of course, I shot them in my usual style. 100 macro wide open composed on the diagonal, graphically inspired, lots of circles, shapes, lines, textures, and colors. That's how I always seem to shoot cars these days and now, I guess, that's how they pay me to do it.

It was a fun shot. A little too hot (it's already hot, for some reason, in the Texas Hill Country) and the sun's already high and bright but I can still work outside. This particular car was conveniently parked in the shade so I was able to really get the reds to pop some. I lucked out in that regard-they had two bright red cars parked conveniently in the shade. I hate to say it, but it's almost time for some neutral density filters, the sun is getting that high these days. This year, I'm going to invest in a good ND system, one that I can use across all of my lenses and one that will provide me with various ND options.

I never used to need ND filters. Being a fine art photographer I almost always had the luxury of working in the shade, sort of when I wanted to, but these days it seems I'm getting hired to do more and more odd sorts of jobs. Stuff like shooting a car show in the middle of the day or doing a mid-day portrait, in the hot sun, with everybody sweating. Hey, I don't prefer these kind of schedules but, since I have to do it, I might as well have all of the right equipment and all, right? So off to ND-land for me.

Eh, that'll be another box headed to my door sometime real soon now, won't it? Aren't you really glad, right about now, that you're not my UPS-guy? Heck, I know I am. (The boxes at the door will continue until morale improves. Yeah, I'd have to say that's been the motto of this extra hot/wildflower-less springtime in the Texas Hill Country of Texas.)

Until next time...

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Milagro Tripod Wars

, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
If you have been following me online at all this week, you probably already know that I've ordered a new tripod head. What you maybe don't know is that, secretly (now I guess maybe not so secretly) I've been waging my own private version of the Milagro Tripod Wars.

Tripods you see, are necessary beasts. We have to use them, we must use them, but we also hate them. I've got a bad back, sometimes I can hardly walk, and I just *hate* mine. Seriously. I'd rather face some kind of uber cruel Japanese water torture than carry a tripod for ten minutes. But, like the rest of the lot of photographers, I recognize that I need one sometimes, so purchase one I must. (Ugh. There goes more hard earned money doing all that it can to break what's left of my aching back yet again.)

For years, many years in fact, I had a Gitzo tripod. I had a great Gitzo, which I liked very much, and a Slik trigger style head. I actually purchased my Slik head used from a friend and I've had it for about 15 years or more. It's wonderful and I love it.

So why am I getting a new tripod now?

The problem comes from carbon fiber. They now make nicer, much lighter tripods out of the stuff. And it's wonderful, really it is. It's "all that and a bag of chips" as the kids today might say.

About three months or so ago, I picked up a new set of tripod legs, made out of this newfangled carbon fiber stuff. I did the right thing-I went to my local camera store, asked a few questions, got the guy to show me a few tripods, and picked one out. They weren't all that expensive and so I came out with a new set of legs. Not bad for a middle-aged camera buff, right? New legs at my age? Wow, who new, right?

Wrong. Everything was wrong. For starters, just after I got my new legs, my tripod head started acting up. At one point, my camera almost came off and fell (I actually caught it...with my hands!) because the quick release is...well...let's just say it's not so quick anymore and leave it at that, ok? It's suffering from years of abuse and no T-L-C, not to mention the new tripod legs are much lighter and the old tripod head now makes the entire rig a bit "top heavy" which is not all that much of a good thing even on a quiet day. Strike one for the beanfields, the tripods, it would appear, are getting the better of me.

There's another lesson for those of you paying attention to this little tale of woe. I used to have a Gitzo. I loved my Gitzo. I would marry my Gitzo except for that "well it has 3 legs" bit. Yeah, Gitzos are tops in my book. I don't care how much they cost, they are worth every penny, each and every last dollar, if you ask me. They just really are that much better, ok? (If you're reading this and you're not a photographer yourself, well, you'll have to just trust me on this one. I'm not usually all tied up in brands of anything but Gitzos just really are tops. )

The new carbon fiber legs? Not Gitzo. Nope. They are Bogen. Now, I realize Gitzo and Bogen are technically one and the same company so, in theory anyway, they should be one and the same tripod but no, no, no, they're not. Not even close. Sorry all you Bogen fans out there but Gitzo's got it all over my Bogan brothers and sisters. Really. It is better and it is worth the extra money you spend upfront, in the purchase of the tripod.

So where does all of this leave me? Without a tripod for starters. I plan to order another carbon fiber tripod to replace the new one (the Bogen one) and to replace the old Gitzo. This time out, yes, I'm getting a Gitzo. There just really is no substitute so I'm going for the tops. I've already started playing with their on-line configurator tool to see which Gitzo will fit my needs.

I've ordered a new head, it's a joystick style head, and I plan to try this out for a while.It's a Bogen head and it's supposed to be lighter than my old Slik trigger head. If that doesn't work, I'll get a new Slik trigger head to tie me over and maybe look into getting a fancy new magnesium head to go with my fancy new carbon fiber tripod legs.

All this talk of heads, torsos, legs, magnesium elements, and carbon fiber really has me thinking that now I know a bit how The Stig must feel when he steps into a car. Come to think of it, does he step into cars actually or just sort of glide effortlessly, maybe even float into place? Hmmm.

Don't really know about that, but I do know for certain that, right about now, I sure wish a new tripod rig would float my way real soon now. And, frankly, if I should happen to break a pipe in the middle of the night, well, I can count on you folks to not say anything, right? Right? RIGHT? (Yeah, I thought so.)

Until next time...

Friday, April 08, 2011

Ah the Glory of Springtime

SoftSoftPurple1563, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I have decided that it's springtime and I am going to celebrate this springtime event with a springtime flower, taken in the springtime, with my springtime camera, all for you, my sweet, sweet snowflakes of springtime. Seriously. Dude, it's spring! Why aren't you out taking photos of you and your family plunked into a field of bluebonnets already?!?

In other entirely "spring like chicken" news, Mythopolis has started his own backyard chicken farming adventure. It's so exciting, I could hardly wait to share it with you. Truth be told, I've known he was sort of "up to this" (kind of like the way he's usually "up to no good" only, this time, without the "no good" bits :~) for a while, but I've been a bit mum on the subject, waiting for the blog to go live until I shared the news with you. Now that it's live and he's got live chickens, well, here's a link: True (Chicken!) Grit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have been. It's a fun thing to follow and really a kick to see how things are moving along and progressing in the new (farm) world of Pottsville.

Chicken Grit aside, spring does make for some interesting pictures so don't forget your cameras should you happen to venture out. This year, in the Texas Hill Country, it's shaping up to be a mild, rather pleasant springtime-short on bluebonnets due to our current extra dry conditions, but mild and pleasant otherwise. I'd have to say it's been a good spring and, frankly, it's good when we get a spring in Texas as it usually goes straight from cold/ice storms right into the blast furnace of hundred plus degrees in the shade kind of days. It's nice to have something in the middle for a change, isn't it?

Unless, of course, you're a chicken in a coop maybe.

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Gods of Hellfire

Volcanic eruption in Volcanos National Park, Volcano, Big Island Hawaii at dusk
VolcanoSunrise0930, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
You often hear people saying things like, "the gods of hellfire," without really thinking about, well, the gods of hellfire. When you hear that saying, you kind of expect the person is exaggerating, even if only just a tad. I mean, come on. The gods of hellfire? Really?

In Hawaii, I got to actually see and hear the gods of hellfire. When I got to the volcano it was nighttime, it was dark outside. The sky was illuminated mostly by the glow coming off the fresh lava plume. The thing that struck me the most was the noise. The volcano was making some crazy odd kind of grumbling noise. Seriously. I had always thought the notion of volcano grumbling and making noises like that were exaggerations at best and made-up folklore at worst. I mean, come on, really? A volcano that grumbles like some fat dudes empty stomach when he hasn't had enough toast? Couldn't be. Could it?

Yes, it is. I'm here now to tell you that, in fact, volcanoes do grumble. They gurgle, grumble, growl and make all kinds of funky noises just before they blow. Seriously. It's the stuff legends are made up, it sounds like something from a fairy tale, I know, but it's true. All kinds of noises they make.

I'm kind of sorry I did not use the voice recorder on my iPhone to pick up some of the "ambient" noise to go with the images. Could you imagine? I would probably have nightmares about it but, yes, there really was a lot of noise (volcano grumbling) going on when I took these.

And, in case you ever hear the expression "the gods of hellfire" again, well now you can say you officially know what that looks like. Here is "gods of hellfire" number 0930. Enjoy!

Until next time...